- 06/10/2014 at 2:15 pm #68290
Hmmm. I’m seeing a pile of “xfinitywifi” public hotspots showing up around Crown Hill, Fremont, Ballard today. Guess Comcast rolled it out today. You need a Comcast login to use, but could be a good thing for reducing your cellular data plan usage. Comcast has done this with one of their flavors of Arris modem/routers.06/10/2014 at 2:50 pm #68296
Sunset Hill DavidParticipant
Hmmm, could you give me an example of a place in Ballard? So once you sign in at a Comcast hotspot will you automatically be signed in whenever you are in a hotspot?06/10/2014 at 8:16 pm #68309
SHD, there are a bunch of commercial ones which have been around a while. A little bit of war driving earlier, and they kept lighting up, but also in residential areas. For instance the first one I saw was about a block west of 8th on 58th.
The PI had a piece today (I think, not 100% sure anymore what today means for an e-paper): http://blog.seattlepi.com/techblog/2014/06/10/comcast-switches-on-50000-residential-wi-fi-hotspots-in-houston/#24139101=0
And here’s the evil company’s info on how to use: http://wifi.comcast.com/ It seems that you can connect anywhere once you log on one place, but I might be reading it wrong. There’s some kind of mapping app to find the commercial ones there. Full disclosure: I don’t have comcast anything.06/10/2014 at 9:53 pm #68314
gnoman, Comcast hot spots are free and available to Comcast customers that have their 25Mb tier or better, the xfinity hot spot app uses your account info for logon validation. they are setting up mini-cells that may end up covering most areas – in the New England area they had been doing a trial and have most of Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston saturated.06/11/2014 at 10:21 am #68336
Thanks Richy. I didn’t realize there were tiers of Comcast service. Is xfinity the upper tier? I tried to figure it out from their online info, but gave up after a few minutes of head scratching. http://wifi.comcast.com/faqs.html#hot At least on that page it says anyone with xfinity gets to use them.
A friend working on the same research project as me, but in Philly mentioned that when they really do roll it out there will be massive numbers of “home” unsecured public hotspots visible, and that what I was seeing up here isn’t a full fledged rollout, maybe just a test of a few.06/11/2014 at 2:41 pm #68349
gnoman – thanks for posting this info. Our house is served by Comcast and I just checked into this free WiFi on the Xfinity web site, it appears that what they are doing is sharing the “guest” login on the newer modem/routers that they use. Glad that we got a modem without a router and use our own wonderful D-Link Wireless N300 PowerLine Adapter AV500 Gigabit Router! love that little black box and all the powerline adapters we have around the house, less wires and clutter.
So if you are a Comcast customer and have a newer modem/router you will probably be sharing it with anyone that walks/drives past your house.06/11/2014 at 2:52 pm #68351
VB, that is true – to a point, the shared section does not use your bandwidth or log on, it is a secure port on the xfinity modems and requires the device to be registered through the Xfinity portal- it is sort of diabolical in a way, but it has no access to the host router, I have not tried to hard to break one but is does seem secure.
gnoman, xfinity is Comcast’s attempt at re branding it self – all Comcast customers can use the hot spots but only for a limited time ( 1 or 2 times a month for an hour) unless you have the 25 Mbs speed or greater – they do offer 6Mbs / 12Mbs / 25Mbs / 50Mbs and 100 Mbs – the 12 and 100 may not be available here (yet)06/11/2014 at 5:30 pm #68363
I have Earthlink service, subcontracted out to Comcast, and get about 26Mbps down on Speedtest. I wonder if I’m allowed to log in?06/12/2014 at 8:00 am #68374
Richy – Correction – “anyone that walks/drives past your house” that is a Comcast customer.
Mondoman – I believe you have to have a comcast.net email address in order to log in.06/12/2014 at 3:02 pm #68410
Just got off the phone with Comcast – not sure if it’s because I use my own router or, like the rep said “it’s not there yet” but apparently on my particular account, the “opt out” option was greyed out. She admitted that this is new to all of them as well, but both her helpdesk guy and supervisor were unable to officially opt me out.
For the moment, I’ll take that at face value. What I think is truly rather sneaky, though hardly unsurprising, was that this is “opt out” rather than “opt in” – most people won’t have a clue they will be sharing. I suspect it won’t be long before some enterprising techie/hacker figures out how to misuse this…sometimes I miss the paper and pen days ;o)06/12/2014 at 9:17 pm #68453
Crownhiller – I believe that this all only applies to new customers or recently nes=w customers that have had a Comcast modem/router installed by a Comcast/Xfinity service person. The new modems have a “guest” log in option built in. If you just have a modem and use your own router then I don’t believe you can “opt out” as you have nothing to “opt out” of. I agree that this is rather sneaky of them but they are a big company and some one there thinks this is a good thing? Personally I don’t like to share anything that I pay a lot of money for just because Comcast thinks it is a good idea.06/12/2014 at 10:04 pm #68460
After a bit of further investigation, it turns out a friend had Xfinity service turned on about 2 weeks ago. I took my handy dandy mobile version of a war driving rig (Wifi-Analyzer app on my mobile phone) over to his house. Sure enough, there it was “xfinitiwifi” being pumped out of his Arris cable modem in the 2.4 GHz band on channel 2 (go figure). Since he is using his own wifi router as an access point we tented the arris with a Cheerios box wrapped in foil. Indeed the signal dropped off entirely by 3 feet from the modem. He too has no access to the ability to opt out via the interface, so it looks like a call to Comcast to turn it off.
It probably doesn’t hurt anything, and the extra power consumption is probably at least 5 cents a year. If I were a Xfinity/Comcast customer of the right tier, and the hotspots were actually widely available, I think I might appreciate the ability to use more wifi and less cell data plan.
+1 crownhiller on the sneakiness.
ps I live on 14th in the 100xx block and can “see” a very weak signal of one of the xfinitywifi hotspots from my front porch.06/23/2014 at 5:19 pm #69055
Thought I’d update this little saga ;o) – turns out, despite my earlier call to Comcast, we hadn’t been “opted out”.
And the annoying part (to me) is here’s how I found out – working merrily along on project – suddenly lost connection to internet. Did my usual reset stuff. Nothing happens.
Turns out, someone logging into an xfinity hotspot off my modem essentially knocked me offline!! Good thing I’m one of those people who saves my work frequently. Took the tech support guy a while to figure it out. It’s now disabled for sure. But that seems like an unacceptable glitch in this little scenario. And yet another reason for “opt in” vs “opt out” ;)06/23/2014 at 9:04 pm #69061
I have noticed four hotspots available when I go to re-establish connection to my network. That’s a lot. Anyone else seeing this?06/23/2014 at 10:08 pm #69065
crownhiller, that is indeed a nasty surprise getting booted by someone logging onto your hotspot. Ouch. And after being told you were opted out of the program.
Botanicals On Clay, I think you must be seeing four different access points, probably your neighbors. The xfinitywifi access points all appear as “one”. If I use the Wifi Analyzer app (it’s free and I think there is an equivalent for iPhones) for my Samsung smartphone, I can see from my house at least 15 access points depending where I am in the house.
Anyway, I’ve finished my part of the research project, resurveying the wifi landscape looking for “risky” connections. Generally in Seattle, if you exclude the xfinitywifi access points, people are much more security conscious than they were a few years ago and the vast majority of access points are secured with WPA or WPA2 encryption, and it seems to be true over a broad range of neighborhoods. Not sure what the prof will do with the data from all 50 cities, but will post back when I know more.06/23/2014 at 10:17 pm #69066
gnoman, thank you for the heads up! We checked the wifi signals and also found xfinitiwifi that was not there before. Our Comcast box is also an aarris box. FYI, this equipment Comcast sold to us is about 3 years old, so they must have been planning this move for quite some time.
I just got off the phone with Comcast. They admitted they did turn our equipment into their hotspot without our permission. The hotspot function is now disabled. I gave the very nice person on the phone a recap on how wrong the whole program is, she agreed, and told me she would add my concerns to the list she has going.
She told me that no one would have access to our home network, our passwords etc. What a bunch of BS. They have no way of ensuring that, plus, they have manipulated privately owned equipment, plus energy charges for their own gain. If they want to do this kind of micro hotspot thing, it should clearly be opt in only.06/24/2014 at 8:24 am #69074
Saw that there was one of these hotspots around NW Market and Ballard ave., lastnight.06/24/2014 at 11:05 am #69079
You’ve got to give Comcast some credit for coming up with such a sneaky, evil yet brilliant plan!
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